A NIGHT WITH THE SPHINX 15
entered Fourth Dynasty burial rooms wherein the five-thousand-year-old stone effigies, perfect representations of the deceased, were still standing, their features clear and recognizable, though their reputed services to the spirits were more questionable.
Yet, scarcely a tomb can be entered without finding its heavy sarcophagus lid moved to one side and everything of value gone, every bit of jewelled treasure vanished, just as the excavators found it. Only the canopic jars, containing the internal organs of the mummified bodies, and the stone statuettes had been left behind. Even ancient Egypt had its tomb-riflers and when the common people rose against declining and degenerating ruling castes, they turned for loot and revenge upon this vast cemetery, where high dignitaries had been given the honour of reposing near the mummies of the kings whom they had served during life.
The few whose mummies eluded the early robbers of their own race, slept in peace for awhile until Greek, Roman and Arab in turn awakened them. Those who passed safely through these ordeals were given a long rest again until the early part of last century, when the modern archaeologists began to sieve the under-soil of Egypt and search for what the robbers had missed. Let us pity these embalmed Pharaohs and poor princes, for their tombs are desecrated and their treasures pillaged. And even where their mummies were not hacked to pieces by thieves in quest of jewels, they are doomed to have no kindlier resting-places than museums, diere to be stared at and commented on oy the crowd.
In such a dismal region, once packed with long-buried corpses, stands the lonely Sphinx. It has watched yonder vaults in the "City of the Dead" plundered by rebel Egyptian and rifled by invading Arab. Who can wonder that Wallis Budge, the famed Keeper of the Egyptian Collection in the British Museum, came at last to the conclusions that "the Sphinx was made to keep away evil spirits from the tombs which were round about"? Who can wonder that King Thothmes IV caused to be inscribed on the fourteen feet high stone slab which he raised against the Sphinx's breast, three thousand four hundred years ago, words like the following: "A magical mystery has reigned in these parts from the beginning of time, since the form of the Sphinx is an emblem of Khepera (god of immortality), the greatest among the spirits, the venerable being that rests there. The inhabitants of Memphis and of all the district raise